"Building For Tomorrow While Preserving Yesterday"

Welcome to Dawes County Historical Museum

Since 1935, Dawes County Historical Museum, located 3 miles south of Chadron, Nebraska, has been preserving history.

The Museum has tens of thousands of artifacts dating back to the early 1800s. You will find something for everyone - artifacts, publications, documents, household goods, farm and ranch items, military memorabilia, toys and much more. The museum is also a huge Genealogical Bank of information for history buffs and those looking for information about their ancestors and their lives.

Visitors of all ages find the hours fly by as they take in all of the interesting pieces of history and report seeing something new each time they return!

A Place For All To Enjoy

Dawes County Historical Museum wants all to enjoy the history that paved the way for where we are today.

From school field trips to family vacations, Dawes County Historical Museum is continually looking to add new exhibits, making it a yearly “must see” for locals and visitors from across the country.

The museum is always provided at no charge to visitors. Come visit, explore, learn, and enjoy the history of Dawes County, Nebraska.

Just a Few of Our Main Attractions

There are always smiles and laughter to be heard and fascinating things to be seen. The museum truly has something for all ages to enjoy. Join us from May 1st through September 30th each year. And, don’t forget our annual “History In Action Day,” on the last Sunday in September.


Enjoy taking a trip back to a simpler time and visit the toys of past decades. Over 1,700 old toys dating as far back as the 1800s. Our museum visitors really love this exhibit and continually comment on how their children enjoy the mystery of what was entertaining back then versus what is entertaining now. This collection belonged to Rodney Heesacker, a lifelong collector.

GeneologyBank & Historical Research

Looking for information? If you have ever had an interest in historical documents, our genealogybank is at your service. Research through our more than 200k original documents. From marriage certificates, delayed birth certificates, obituaries, personal and family histories and more, your genealogybank research starts here!

1000 Mile Horse Race

From Chadron, Nebraska to Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show in Chicago! In 1893, nine cowboys headed off on what is known as one of the longest horse races ever! Come take a look at our memorabilia that has been passed down from the descendants of the declared winner and other participants. We’re the only museum in the world to have these items.

Unique Farm Machinery

This is not your typical farm machinery, this is mechanical ingenuity at its best! Marcus Cain adapted machinery to suit his farming needs. From modifying a World War II tank into a huge tractor, or what may be the first self-propelled combine in the world to actually work in the 1930s, this collection is one you must see in person. You won’t find it anywhere else.


You will fall in love with our collection of over 2,600 dolls! From handmade to “store bought”, this collection will have you marveling at the variety. The dolls in this collection range in dates from 1816 to the newest being from 2011. Enjoy dolls that all generations will recognize. This amazing collection belonged to Clara Erixson of Crawford, NE. She was a doll maker and restorer for many years.

History In Action Day

During the museum’s popular annual “History in Action Day celebration,” you can take part in the many activities and watch demonstrations from our history. The last Sunday afternoon in September is the time to see and enjoy butter churning, leather-work, apple cider making, wagon and buggy rides, music, and more. And don’t forget the homemade pies that will be for sale! See you in September!

A Must Stop for All

Take a read at what our visitors have to say about their trip to Dawes County Historical Museum. We look forward to seeing you – at the museum!